Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hopelessness

I fathom a life where it is the easiest thing in the world to follow God's path and always be a good Christian, a loving person all the time. I try to imagine a life that doesn't include others who are hurtful, who try to lead me astray...a life where I am not hurtful and do not make mistakes. Of course, this type of life is impossible this side of heaven but I am intoxicated by the idea of it. I am perfectly aware of my duty as one of God's children to do as much as I can to try to achieve such a life but as God's child, I am imperfect. I make mistakes and I do not always know how to handle myself in a Christian manner. Sometimes, I allow my emotions to decide my actions and this often does more harm than good.

I am trying to understand my place in life, as a person in search of God's will. I am trying to figure out why there are people in my life who only seem to want to cause me harm. And I am trying to figure out how I am to be able to not allow them to harm me and how to keep myself from harming them. For years I've battled the unavoidable presence of some not so loving people in my life, trying to be patient waiting for things to be different, trying to love them despite the hurt they cause. As children of God, they too are imperfect and I understand this. But lately, I am almost convinced that Satan has gotten a hold of them and is using them to do his work.

I know that only God can heal me now. I am trying to figure it all out on my own and it's not working... it's just too hard. I've been feeling so hopeless when it comes to a lot of things lately and I am just moving along through the days, a shadow of a person, trying to find the light I think is there.... somewhere.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Growing Where I'm Planted

I wrote in the book I'm working on about learning to grow where I'm planted. This idea was written several years ago, just before I found out I was pregnant with my first baby. I have not really revisited that thought in awhile and as life has changed so drastically since then, I'm not too sure I've really been keeping up with that idea at all. I don't really find it very easy to do so when I'm always dreaming of going 'home.'

Since Joe and I moved to Pennsylvania, I've been kind of unhappy. I remember the first few months we lived here, I would make trips to Maryland several times a week because I was so home-sick and missed the company of my family. I was unaware of the money I was wasting in gas, though back then the price for gas was a lot lower than it is these days. I was also unaware of the fact that I was missing out on so much of life by returning to my comfort zone (Frederick, the company of my family, the house I grew up in) all those times in one week.

We have now been in Pennsylvania for almost 2 years and I am just starting to feel like I'm taking root. I still want these roots to be sort of shallow, as I so desperately want to move home sometime in the next few years. But I'm OK with them being deeper than I initially planned and I'm almost OK with it not being soon that we move back. The past few months of the warm weather has helped me along in my process. With the onset of Spring, when nature started to come alive again, I felt a stirring in my heart to slow myself enough to really take notice. Slowing myself in this case was not about doing less or not rushing from point A to point B. It was slowing my thought process, the plans I made in my head of when and how we were going to move home, what I wanted for my future away from here. It was living each day with my heart and mind in Pennsylvania, in my home here, not in Maryland and what I was missing there.

As I have been more aware of the fact that God puts us where He wants us at different points in our lives, I have also been more aware of the little garden He has me planted in right now. As more and more compliments of how beautiful my home and my yard look filter in through friends and family, I am more appreciative of what He has given us. All I have thought of for the past year and a half is how much I hate it here and how there's nothing good about Pennsylvania. I was blind to the blessings He has given us since we've been living here. (And that includes much more than our house and yard.) But as I am noticing these things through the help of others in my life, I am seeing not their insignificance and reasons to want to leave but their enormous potential for reasons I should stay. After all, this is my home, here in Pennsylvania. At least for now.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jogging

This morning I got up with my husband and I did something I haven't done in about 2 years. I went jogging. I remember the last time I went jogging, it was a few months after my son was born. I was going to be my sister's Matron of Honor in her wedding and I worried about how I was going to look. Yes, I did realize that for the most part every one's eyes are on the bride, as it should be. But I knew that I wasn't going to be invisible and I obsessed over my extra weight. I went jogging a couple times in between dress fittings and while it didn't really allow me to lose a lot of weight in such a short amount of time, things did change a little. Even my sister's friend who was doing the alterations for our dresses noticed. She kept getting frustrated with me because my body was different each time I went. This time, I wondered if maybe I could even jog with the extra weight I have, worrying that I wouldn't be able to carry it!

Since the birth of my new baby, I have been obsessing once again. Everyone tells me that I look fantastic for having 3 children or for just having a baby but that's just the thing that makes me feel worse, that extra part on the end of their compliment..."You look great for having 3 kids." I understand that I will never get back to that skinny girl who wore Junior's size 3 until she got pregnant for the first time. I look back and see her in the past, all 105 pounds of her, and I both envy and pity her. That girl never had to worry about gaining any weight. I vaguely remember her actually wanting to put on a few extra pounds but I think it was mostly because she thought it would plump up her scrawny chicken legs. But here she is now, probably at least 20 pounds heavier and she still has chicken legs.

I've gotten lots of compliments about how "great" I look (for having just had a baby) and all that but I always say 'you haven't seen me naked.' Sometimes I like to look at myself in the mirror and marvel at the shape my body has taken since having my first child. It's so different now, so odd to me. In a way I feel like I earned every last one of the stretch marks that grace my belly. But at the same time, I find the textured mass of skin a little bit yuck, not to mention the fact that it's floppy and doughy, which gets a double yuck. My husband tells me I'm beautiful but I know he secretly wishes I still had that "trophy wife" body that I had before. (Mind you, he packed on weight with each of my pregnancies too and has yet to lose most of it!)

So, last night I made a decision that I wanted to start jogging again and that I was sticking to it. I have talked about it before but of course, as things usually go around here, that's all the further I got. But last night I just really cemented the decision in my head. I told my husband several times that if he didn't wake me up to go running, I'd beat him. So, being afraid of the wrath of Wifey, he did as he was told! The air this morning was cool but I could feel the humidity moving in. I started slow and picked up pace as I rounded the sharp curve in the road. As my feet hit the pavement and I breathed in the morning air, I was transferred back in time to high school, remembering what it was like to go running with my teammates when I ran cross-country. I remember the summer mornings we spent running hills at Gambril State Park in preparation for the coming season, and the fall afternoons flying down Opossumtown Pike. The few meets that I actually ran in before I got injured played in my mind as I pounded the pavement down the slight hill to the other end of our road. I remember one meet at Brunswick, running through the woods with my brother-in-law's sister, pacing each other, feeding off each other's desire to just get to the finish line. And I remember when I did cross that finish line at that particular meet, I had shaved 6 minutes off my time since the last 3 mile practice run I had done.


I only ran for 10 or 15 minutes this morning; I didn't want to over-do it my first time out. Not once while I was running did I think about how fat I think I am or how much weight I want to lose. I prayed a little while I ran and I thought about how I used to be a cross-country runner. I thought about the fact that this little run would've been so easy, just a warm-up before a big practice. I thought about the fact that I got jipped when I got hurt, as it basically shattered any strength and determination I had to become the track star that everyone thought I was going to be and how I wish I hadn't chosen spending more time with my high school boyfriend over getting back into cross-country and track when I had healed. I missed running.

When I got home, I burst through the back door as my husband was just topping the stairs from the basement. I leaned over and tried to catch my breath and stretch a little. "You look like I did that one time I went running," he said. I thought back to the night of a few months ago when he decided out of the blue to go running because he was stressed out. He came home, red-faced and puffing, trying hard not to have a heart attack as he gulped down some water and tried to catch his breath. I don't think I looked that bad this morning. As a matter of fact, I felt really great. And I realized that I did carry all that weight just fine after all.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mommies Gone Wild

I've been feeling kinda crazy the last few days. There have been moments when normal routines of my daily life have turned into nightmares, engaging me in far-away fantasies of my actually going crazy. Like Mommies Gone Wild crazy....sans the naked part, of course.. No one wants to see me running around with my stretch marks and nursing-mommy boobs flopping in the wind as I slosh back margaritas and shots of Jack, screaming like a mad woman totally oblivious to the fact that I am doing everything I can to annihilate every ounce of who I really am. Although the drinking would probably be a big part of my going crazy as I often fantasize about being able to just sit on my couch all day and drown out the buzz of 3 children as I sip away at some fruity drink while they somehow miraculously take care of themselves.... Screaming like a mad woman would also be fit into my schedule somewhere.

Are there such videos of Mommies Gone Wild that aren't the porned-up ridiculousness of the Girls Gone Wild videos? Like videos of just regular mommies on vacation from their fams, living up the days right down to the last second without the suffocation of constant screaming, someone trailing behind them, someone burping in their face or pooping on the floor.. Mommies sleeping 'til noon and having lunch at 4, complete with 1 or 2 (or 5) mimosas. Hanging out at dinner for hours with their friends and catching late movies without worrying about a child stirring in the night. You know, Mommies Gone Wild at its best.

(Oh and just so we're clear, I have never seen any of the GGW videos.)

I think that the particular type of crazy I have been feeling lately just started 2 days ago, maybe 3 when I just felt this itch in my mind, an irritation as colossal as a mosquito bite and could not control my urge to scratch. When I did, I opened up Pandora's Box and felt the rush of cold air swirl into a storm as I realized that I really do need a vacation. I don't need it for the purpose of getting away necessarily or hiding from my duties but more to rejuvenate my abilities and put out the fires that swell within me when I just feel overloaded with *merde.* (Pardon my french.)

So what caused this ginormous irritation? Well, it was basically the assault of a thousand feelings crawling into my head when I realized I barely tasted the food I just shoveled in my mouth because I was too worried about the baby crying and Angelina begging me for a donut and some water, along with 50 other things. They trampled across my nerves reminding me that I do this every time I eat, unable to truly enjoy any meals I've had since my first baby was born. This irritation came with the realization that I haven't had more than a few hours' time in I don't even know how long when I haven't had someone pulling at me to do something for them, a baby nursing at my breast or some one's diaper needing to be changed.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a mommy. I love every dirty detail of my status. I love being needed even as much as it takes with 3 kids. But I also recognize that I am a person, a woman who does have weaknesses, limits to my abilities and my own needs. I recognize when I am feeling stretched particularly thin and need a little R&R to get my spirits and my strength back up. Being a mommy is like running a marathon for as long as our children are dependent upon us (and I imagine even when they have left us to our quiet houses in the older years of their lives). Should mommies be expected to run a constant marathon without even a drink of water or a slower pace to refresh us?

I think about all this and then I imagine my own mother..... My beautiful mother who had 7 crazy children and took care of us all with a lot less help than I have. I think about the fact that she cared for us with every ounce of love that she had, doing everything she was actually capable of to nurture us into adulthood. Most of our lives, she was home with us, allowing us the permanence of the same caretaker and the comfort and stability of someone always being there when we came home from school.

I think about how hard it must have been for her with 7 children and virtually no vacation to help her unwind and recharge. I think every mommy needs that once in a while. I look at her life and see her struggling even now, as she has taken on the tremendously difficult and disheartening task of caring for her own mother in her old age. Behind my mom's tired eyes I see a beautiful strength I only wish I owned and a terrible ache within me reminds me that I am blessed to have such an example. Yes things were crazy and yes there were times when she maybe could've done something better. My mom could've probably done a lot of things differently and of course she wasn't perfect because no body is. But I believe without hesitation that my mom did the absolute best she could and it was more than good enough. God has blessed me with this vision of my mother, allowing me to minimize my own self-wallowing and truly seek to be a better, stronger mommy than I am.

I do not always feel so crazy, though I post about it a lot, nor do I always feel the way I did in my Domestic Diva post. In thinking about my own mom, I secretly scold myself for the feelings I often have of going insane and worrying about my abilities so much. I wonder if I have a right to feel like this and still be able to claim that I love my children and my motherhood.

And I often wonder if I will ever get a Mommies Gone Wild vacation.....


Monday, July 14, 2008

Room for Mistakes

I've been wondering lately how one teaches one's children about mistakes we make and about the life God wants for us. With my oldest being just shy of 4, I obviously don't have this issue yet but it weighs heavily on my mind a lot. On a limited level, I can speak to my daughter about God's desire for our lives but in actuality, she will not understand the type of things I really worry about, the fears and anxieties that rage through my mind as I remember parts of my life and how it used to be. She is still too young. I want to help her understand as soon as she is able to but at the same time, some of the lessons she needs to learn she will learn on her own and not until she's much older. And sometimes, that scares me.


I think about a piece from the book I've been writing and what it means to me to feel the way I proclaim within these words:


"I sometimes catch sight of another life, shadows and fragments staining the walls of my mind, reminding me who I used to be and how far God has brought me as His servant. In my mind, there are so many unanswered questions and reasons I will never understand for the way I was, why I couldn’t have been better, how obscure my path had been. But now, in some unforeseen act of God’s breath and hand upon my shoulder, I find myself here, where I am now, in this life. I am reminded only of those shapes and flickers of gray light climbing the walls of that life, pointing the direction of my path up; up to Him, into His arms so He could show me the truth, show me my choices and what to do. And the rest of that life has faded away somewhere along this path to Him."


Without some of the trials I went through and the mistakes I made, I'm not sure that I would have gotten to a point of really seeking God in my life the way I do now. Even though I grew up Catholic and with a general knowledge that God existed and that He loved me, I never really felt the way I do now...with this hunger to know Him more, a desire to really learn and live my Catholic faith and the strength to go through the struggle to do so. I have come to know that if we are seeking Him with our hearts God blesses our lives regardless of the choices we make. We may not always do what He wants us to do but He blesses us anyway. I think about this especially concerning how I came to be a mommy. And I am thankful for the blessings of the life that resulted from that part of my past. I think that perhaps if I had been following Him from the start, I may have been blessed even more and sometimes I am sad when I think about that; about the fact that He has plans for me and that I don't always follow them. But ultimately, I think that God allows room for the mistakes we make.

So do I teach my children about God's blessing us despite the mistakes we make? Do I teach them about our choices and about free will? How do I keep in check my burning desire to shield them from everything and not allow them the chance to make mistakes that they can learn from? I know in my heart that this could possibly stunt their growth and might even inhibit their opportunities to find God's place in their lives. But it's hard for me, knowing how some mistakes caused me so much pain, to think that they might make the same mistakes and go through similar trials. Do I use the lessons I learn from the mistakes I make even now and help them to understand through that?

My daughter is only 4 and my son is only 2, my baby just 6 months. So I have time. I guess that I can start with the small things and as they grow older, help them with the decisions they face as God places it on my heart to do so. I can't keep them from everything, safely floating through life in a bubble or locked away in a tower. I know this. I can, however, pray to my Father that He will help me to teach them about His love and that He will help them make good decisions and to avoid bad mistakes when I am unable to help them myself. And I can also pray that He will allow ample room for the mistakes they are destined to make as flawed human beings.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Supposedly, I'm A Phoenix

I'm not sure I agree with some of what it says but I took this quiz just for the crap of it and this is what it came up with:




You Are a Phoenix



Driven and ambitious, you tend to acquire material success easily.

You have grand schemes - both for your own life and for changing the whole world.

You are a great leader, and you have no problem taking the reigns.

However, you aren't all business. You also have great talents for performing and visual arts.

What Mythological Creature Are You?


Nov. 13,2008: I posted this quiz result awhile back and I was going through my posts recently when I came upon it and realized I never elaborated on what I disagree with and why I even posted it. So here it goes:

Let me start by saying that I don't really agree with these silly tests. I don't base my life on them. There is really nothing prophetic in their results. I find it almost hilarious that anyone believes in such things but I guess to each his own..

I am not driven or ambitious....at least not in the way of acquiring material success...which I also don't do easily even if I try. Being a stay at home mom doesn't really do this for me. I guess I'm driven and ambitious when it comes to my duties as a mother and I'm trying very hard to be this way when it comes to my duties as a wife. (No, really, I am!!) My success doesn't show its face in any sort of material way around here...but in more concrete ways than that which a big house or a fancy car might allow. I have a heart so full of joy from the mere smile on my child's face. I have a home warmed by the heat that emanates from other members of the household, my family. I have a car-load of kids, who are what drive me.

I do have grand schemes, for changing my life and the world. I believe I've been blessed with a heart that longs to serve others and a mind for good ideas. I definitely want to serve the Lord and others and I think that somehow, I will be fulfilled in that longing someday. Needless to say, that will change my life.

I am not a great leader.. I don't really see myself as a one at all. If God wants me to be one, I'll gladly ask Him to show me how. But right now, I'm not. And I do have big problems with taking the reigns. I like to be behind the scenes. I don't like it out under the hot glare of the spotlight. I like it in my little cocoon of safety, on the verge of being anti-social.

I'm definitely not all business. I'm almost never business, actually. I am a goof. I have a fun personality, accept when I am in one of my down moods. I don't like to be serious if I don't have to be but I know when I should be, for the most part. I do like to be artistic but I don't take part in performing arts or anything like that. Mostly my artistic abilities lie where my writing is concerned... And when I bake cookies.



Domestic Diva

"I don't know how you do it. You're crazy. Cooking and baking. Taking care of 3 babies age 4 and under. Keeping your house clean. Blogging. Pilates... And painting your toe nails..."

This is my sister's reaction to my teasing her about her toe nails being unpainted. I wiggled my newly-painted toes at her, flashing my summer color of an electric hot-pink and asked her why hers weren't painted. She has a baby the same age as my littlest baby. But she just has one. Surely there's time for painting your toes, right??!!

This little conversation took place a month ago and recently, I've been thinking about my abilities, as they far surpass what I thought I was ever actually capable of as a person, let alone a mommy or "housewife." Not that I'm bragging but I might be patting myself on the back just a tiny bit here. Despite the chaos I so often write about, despite the storm swelling in my head most days (especially on days I don't get a chance to write), I sort of do have it all together...for the most part.

I am a domestic diva!!


But I'm not sure how that happened.

I remember that not too long ago, so much craziness and worry rattled my days as I settled into a completely new life with my husband and a new baby. A lot of the time, I could just do the bare minimum to keep us all alive and relatively healthy and our little condo in some sort of order... okay, we'll just say it was sort of an organized mess. I wasn't sure how to do this "mommy" thing or the "housewife" thing and at that point, I didn't ever think I could really be good at the "wife" thing. I was so young and so much baggage had followed me to this life.

But I started praying more and I started doing one thing at a time. I made charts and lists of things I would do on a certain day. Then I followed them for a week, maybe two. Then I threw them away. Then I would just decide to get at least one thing done each day and from there, things just sort of fell into place. Now, of course, almost 4 years and 2 more kids later, it's especially hard some days to get anything done, as I have written about in past posts. Some days I just make my bed. Other days, I don't even get that done but the kids are fed and happy so surely I must have done something.

And I am a different person than I was even 4 years ago. Things don't seem quite as hard as they did in the past. Adding on extra tasks doesn't scare me the way it used to. I've always loved cooking and baking but it often seemed like a chore I did because I felt I had to. Now, it's more of a calming thing as well as a loving service; baking goodies for my children and hubby just because.

I get up every morning, get the kids their breakfast and go in to the playroom to do a 10-minute Pilates work-out. Not only is it helping me get back into shape but it's time I spend by myself doing something just for me. It's only 10 minutes but I relish it. Writing time, those beautiful coveted moments in which I can have something resembling a little bit of quiet and peace in the house to get my thoughts out, is also something I appreciate. Last night my friend asked me how I really do find the time to write on top of everything else. In jest I asked "if I said that I just let my children run around on their own screaming and killing each other so that I can write, would I be a bad mother?" In reality, I write on borrowed time. I don't know where it comes from. Sometimes I think God makes my days 25 hours long instead of 24 just so I can get a few extra things done. And in those minutes that I have to do things like baking zucchini bread, writing on my blog or in my journal or even painting my toe nails, somehow, the kids oblige me my time and do their own thing...not always but often. And it's through these things that I have truly found parts of myself I did not know existed.

God has really shown me the depths to which I'm capable of extending to, the far reaches of my abilities, the person I truly am and the person He has always wanted me to be; all through my current status in life: Wife and mother. Who cares how it all came to be? Who cares that things weren't always so "perfect" and still are far from that now? All I want, all I need is to continue to follow the path He has laid out for me....which, at this point in my life, leads up my sidewalk through my front door, into a house with 3 children, a husband, work to do, goodies to bake, bills to pay, and yes, even toe nails to paint.